Firmly believes in the fundamental importance of gender mainstreaming as a sustainable approach to gender equality
Gertrud Åström’s whole career has been concerned with gender issues in all form of research, studies, development work, and gender mainstreaming all over Sweden, Europe and the World. Gertrud is a Swedish lecturer, executive director, entrepreneur and expert on gender equality issues. Some of her previous work included several government reports and investigations into gender equality and gender mainstreaming. She participated as an expert on the EU project “Implementation of Gender mainstreaming at Governmental Level in the EU Member States”. She also taught at Södertörn University.
When Gertrud was a researcher at Stockholm University, she was the one who coined the Swedish term for gender mainstreaming – “jämtegrering”. She is also a creator of the 3R method- Representation – Resources – Realia. She sees these three stages as necessary elements to move towards the successful achievement of gender equality in society. Gertrud says, “I like to refer to it as an operationalisation, where stage one involves finding guidelines for what and how to achieve gender mainstreaming. Stage two is about knowledge and stage three methods, that is, how to proceed in practice.”
She continues: “It was just as well to find a Swedish expression, especially since the term gender mainstreaming was sometimes misunderstood as gender malestreaming”.
Gertrud Åström is also Chair of the Swedish Women's Lobby (SWL). This is a politically independent umbrella organisation for women’s non-governmental organisations in Sweden. Its aim is to integrate women's perspectives into all political, economical and social processes, locally as well as internationally, striving to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women and girls, and, to build and strengthen solidarity among women through information, education and awareness rising activities. The Swedish Women's Lobby was established in 1997 and has about 40 member organisations. The Swedish Women's Lobby is the Swedish coordination of the European Women’s Lobby, the largest umbrella organisation for women's organisations in the EU.
Gertrud maintains that: “Several Swedish municipalities have produced equal opportunities plans, which are in fact already regulated in law. And I suppose it is good to follow the law! But it is also important to have a work programme for how to achieve the ambitions of equal opportunities plans. We need to see concrete measures, with some kind of official appropriations document for those who draw up local programmes”. She sees a need to institutionalise gender equality.
Gertrud’s latest investigation was as Chair of the Swedish Equality Policy Commission, working on: Women and men should have equal power to shape the society and their own lives.
The 3R method involves surveying and analysing an activity in terms of gender equality, on the basis of Representation, Resources and Realia.
1R — Representation: What is the gender distribution at every level of the activity and decision-making process, i.e. among staff, decision-makers and users?
2R — Resources: How are the resources in the activity, in the form of time, money and space, distributed between women and men?
3R — Realia: How did representation and resource distribution between the sexes come to be as they are?
Collectively, these are a means of exploring the norms that govern work, the division of power between women and men, and, the ways in which gender affects the nature and organisation of the activity. The method was developed in the JämKom project on municipalities and gender equality, headed by Gertrud Åström under the aegis of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities in the late 1990s. It has been used mainly in various municipal activities. The method stresses that all three Rs are required to gender-mainstream an activity. The first two are about compiling statistics, and serve as the springboard for discussion about the third and last R.